Columns

Ebola, Africa — threats and innovation

Franklin JOHNSTON

Friday, August 08, 2014    

Print this page Email A Friend!


Africa, the cradle of mankind, is the stewpot of creation, and every so often it throws up some wild thing. The Ebola virus is the latest. The Alpha force is not mitigated by the passage of a 100 millennia. Ebola is not retribution for slavery, but who cares. The world had three episodes of plague (CE 540s, 1340s, 1850s), which killed half the people in Europe, China and North Africa. If Ebola hit 50 per cent of us now our GDP would double -- a weird and wonderful fact.

The Bible claims plague in Egypt but none in sub Sahara Africa. The peoples who suffered most in pre-history are most innovative today and the African diaspora is more innovative than Africa itself. People's innovation always rise to the level of the threats they face. So, my friend, make peace with your trials and innovate.

Indigenous growth in science and technology is a function of challenges. We face extinction, the survival instinct rises -- we innovate. The creativity of men who fear their bloodline will die out is amazing. The more the threat the more robust the response. Feral man had more kids to hedge his bets as he lacked the science of sanitation, pregnancy, and infancy survival. We use borrowed science as our history in this paradise is brief and we faced no extinction. For us, innovation is dalliance as Europe or America usually saves us. The moral zeitgeist is the West will not allow us to starve, and so we lose the incentive to innovate. Africa is the Garden of Eden, to misquote Marcus Garvey "One God, one race, one aim, one destiny" -- one race, several colours; but Africa as paradise developed no robust science. It procreated and survived; Europe and China being in hostile environments were forced to innovate to survive.

The Ebola crisis highlights Africa's weakness. Innovation in Africa is behind Europe, Asia or America. Africa's needs are already invented by others, the elites can buy them and survival innovation is not in its DNA. Its survival was not a robust science-based military or technology response to threats. Europe's tribes faced threats and responded by an arms race -- chemical, physical, biological to produce offensive and defensive tools; Africa's response? "We can breed faster than they can kill us!"

New World industrial slavery was a threat, but Africa did not innovate to repel slavers and joined Arabs, Europe even to this day. The Arabs as the first foreign African slavers are a good mark for reparations. They now have an abundance of riches they did not work for, so they may be sympathetic to our cause. Cash pot!

HIV/AIDS emerged from the African cauldron. The Church said it's God's punishment for fornication and sodomy. The anarchists said it's the military/industrial complex wish to kill us. The scientists said it's the work of monkeys, leave their habitats alone and be safe. The racists said it's designed to kill blacks. The conspiracy theorists said Washington has the antidote and "Big Pharma" will sell it at the right time and make billions. Watch out for the same about Ebola.

The Americans knew everything and have everything in its Centres for Disease Control; China deals with its Chicken Flu, H5N1, SARS, and Africa is frustratingly inept. A virus emerges in Africa, Europe or America go to its rescue. Africa owes us no explanation for its mendicancy. However, it is time for Africa to assume the white man's burden, and for wealthy Nigeria to open the global CDC since the continent continues to co-create and globalise strange viruses.

We live next to the greatest nation since Rome. It exploits but is productive; a marketer, warmonger, hypocrite, but gives back -- contradictory, but I understand it better than Africa. A great man said: "The good that I would I do not and the evil I would not that I do." Were I in the 16th century with power and needs I would enslave them just as they did to my forefathers -- it's the African way. I take no moral high ground. I never faced the challenge of needing a thing and said "this thing is legal but it is immoral so I will forego my prosperity". Did you exit a party and piss by the host's wall? I am not superior to he who enslaved me, nor is he necessarily more debased than me. I never walked in his shoes. Selah!

Ebola is a metaphor for Africa's impotence. Its massive cities, billionaires, oil, minerals, and farm production mean zip. Ebola is a haemmorhagic or pneumonic virus -- fever, pains, bleeding, painful death -- first noted in 1976 and Africa was helpless then. Has Africa developed a serum in 40 years? Is Africa responsible to itself or the global community? AIDS was identified in the 1970s and Africa had no cure then or now. It is lost unless Europe finds a cure for Ebola. Must we weep for Africa?

Can Ebola get here? Yes! Millions come by air and crews by ship. The American citizen who died in Liberia after he fell ill on an aircraft was to take a flight to the USA. How many carriers of Ebola are now in America? How many here? Will a returning resident, tourist, a promiscuous sportsman, entertainer or a seaman bring it? Are our ports and sterile spaces ready? The Pentagon took two infected American volunteers -- a doctor and nurse -- to Georgia. Will our doctors volunteer for Africa? The World Health's Margaret Chan says: "The disease is moving faster than our efforts to control it." Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are crucial; so step up ports screening here and pan-Africanists can now offer volunteer service to those nations. Go for it, Rasta!

What about weapons-grade Ebola? I see a future for designer viruses to help and harm. A kind of benign Mengele science could cause us to be crime-free and grow. Our scientists might isolate the "lazy gene" and help our GDP. Ebola can be weaponised and our emphasis on STEM is timely. Biological weapons are not new. The Mongols were early adopters; Japan dropped infected rats and fleas on the Allies in WWII, and later the USA, Russia weaponised the plague and non-bio WMDs as polonium and ricin. Infection by casual contact is benign, but to create breathable droplets put them in an aerosol can in a world where terrorism thrives is demonic. To deny rogue states access to advanced science makes our world safer. If you want a WMD invent it for yourself. A nation wishing to cure Ebola should grow its own scientists as in the process responsibility grows. The repatriation of the two Americans cannot be assumed to be charity only. For the first time the USA will study Ebola on home turf. A cure is near, but war is the cradle of innovation and the powerful do what they have to do to maintain their hegemony; supplicants may protest but power rules. Power makes God God. Let us promote STEM, put science to work and be powerful... let's even invent a WMD and be a bit scary. Stay conscious, my friend!

Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education. franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

Is it OK for the NHT to venture into businesses other than housing?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT